When Mike MacIntyre took over the Colorado football program last winter, he was careful not to share too much publicly when it came to his review of the 2012 season and the team he inherited.

One area MacIntyre didn't shy away from discussing was his intention to cut down the number of penalties the Buffs committed, especially when it came to pre-snap penalties such as false starts or offsides.

CU coaches have mandated a higher level of focus from players since the first practice last spring and the drop in penalties this season has been one of the most obvious signs of improvement.

In 2012, the Buffs were penalized 73 times for 693 yards in 12 games. After 10 games this season, CU has been flagged 47 times for 413 yards. One of the biggest areas of improvement has come on special teams where the Buffs were penalized 20 times last fall and they have earned just six flags in the kicking game this year.

"It indicates to me that they're listening and working and our coaches are doing a good job and there is a lot of self discipline," MacIntyre said.

The Buffs are on pace to finish with fewer than 60 penalties for the first time since 1985 this season. The Buffs had the third fewest penalties in the Pac-12 Conference going into the weekend and are tied with several other teams as the 26th least penalized team in the nation.


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"I've got to put that all on coach Mac," senior linebacker Derrick Webb said. "He's a big disciplinarian kind of coach and kind of guy. You know we always focus on details and little things and I think that's what penalties come down to."

The Buffs have committed just five penalties in the past two games combined, including a false start by left tackle Jack Harris in the win over California on Saturday.

Harris also credited CU coaches for focusing on mastering proper technique during practices, which helps players avoid doing things that catch the attention of officials on game days. Harris said offensive line coach Gary Bernardi spends a lot of time working with his players on technique and how to avoid calls such as holding.

"They just harp stuff like communication and focus and Bernardi is big on hand placement and if you have a guy in a position where he can get to the quarterback don't just let him go but don't make it look bad either," Harris said.

Clearing up confusion

One of the biggest plays in the Buffs' victory over Cal came on special teams when CU place-kicker Will Oliver's kickoff hit an up man and the Buffs recovered in the second quarter.

The turnover allowed the Buffs to score two touchdowns without the Cal offense touching the ball between those possessions. Those scores gave CU a two-touchdown lead.

MacIntyre said Oliver was told to squib kick to keep the ball out of high winds that affected the game and also to avoid a big return before halftime. It was just fortuitous for the Buffs that the ball hit a Cal player.

"It turned out to be a really good play for us, but it was trying to be a hard, line drive squib," MacIntyre said.

Notable

The USC at Colorado game on Saturday will be televised by the Pac-12 Network at 7:30 p.m. ... Linebacker Woodson Greer and safety Parker Orms remain day-to-day with shoulder stingers. Both could be available for the Buffs home finale against USC this week.

Contact staff writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/kyleringo